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Everyday Cheapskate: Here’s how you can deal with a holiday hangover

Hangover. It’s such a descriptive word of the harsh reality one faces in the morning as a result of overindulging the night before.

If you went a little nuts with the credit cards over the recent holidays, you may know a thing or two about a different kind of hangover — debt hangover. I’d rather not make things worse by pointing out the fact that all the stuff you paid for with credit is likely forgotten by now. Instead, let’s figure out how to get rid of your holiday hangover.

FACE THE FACTS. Stop beating yourself up for having overspent. Set your emotions to the side, and deal with just the facts. How much money are we talking about here? $800? $1,200? More? Whatever it is, face it head-on. Know thy debt.

MAKE A PLAN. Rather than separating new debt from old, you would be well advised at this point to go for the big plan — the Rapid Debt-Repayment Plan that will get you completely free from all non-mortgage debt. If you buckle down and get serious about your debt, you could wipe out a huge chunk of it in the next 12 months. Go to DebtProofLiving.com and click on RDRP Calculator Demo so I can show you how my Rapid Debt-Repayment Plan works.

STOP USING. If you cannot pay your balance in full each month, you need to stop using the plastic. No more. Finished. Buh-bye. Cut up all but one of your cards so you cannot use them, then give the one you will keep to a trusted friend or put it in a very safe place away from your wallet.

FIX YOUR PAYMENTS. Whatever your current minimum monthly payment is on each of your credit-card debts, determine to pay that same amount every month, regardless of the lower amount your statement may suggest you pay.

LINE ‘EM UP. Make a chart that lists your debts in order by outstanding balance, with the smallest at the top.

SPEED IT UP. When you pay off the first debt (it will happen if you are not adding new purchases), take its payment and add it to the fixed payment of the second debt. When it is paid, take the payments from the first and second debts and add them to the fixed payment of the third. Think of rolling a snowball down a hill. That’s how this works. You will be astonished at how quickly you can become debt-free.

GET HELP. I won’t try to mislead you to think that getting out of debt is simple. If that were the case, no one would be in debt. It takes a desire, commitment and willingness to make temporary sacrifices to improve your life. And it helps to have the support of people who know what this is like because we’ve been there — and survived to tell!

This time next year you’ll be so glad you did.

Mary invites questions at mary@everydaycheap skate.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.

Mary Hunt is founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com.

To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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